The cause of a fire and death of one individual are under investigation following a fire in a building scheduled for demolition near downtown Nanaimo.
The fire in the structure, which was the former Caledonian Medical Clinic at the corner of Campbell and Wallace streets, was called in by a Nanaimo RCMP member at about midnight Sunday, March 26.
“One of our members on patrol saw smoke billowing out,” said reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson.
He said two people were found outside the building suffering the effects of minor smoke inhalation.
“Fire crews, when they went inside, found a deceased person on the first floor,” O’Brien said. “They cleared the building. No other individuals were found inside.”
Fire and loss prevention officers with Nanaimo Fire Rescue have since been working with the B.C. Coroners Service and RCMP investigators to determine the cause of the fire and the cause of the death of the person found in the building.
“While it’s only preliminary, it appears that foul play was not involved and the fire may be associated to the fact that there was individuals of a marginalized nature who were inside camping,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said there were several people in the building, but did not have an exact number, and added that there have been complaints about people entering and sheltering in the structure.
The building, which is scheduled for demolition to make way for a condominium development, has been boarded up and the property fenced off, but was the site of a previous fire in January. There were no injuries reported from that blaze.
“The building has been secured and there has been a fence around it for some time, but that hasn’t prevented individuals from camping outside the building and, in fact at times, from going inside the building to seek shelter,” O’Brien said.
He said the investigation is continuing, is in its early stages and the person found deceased has not been identified.